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Old 06-15-2013   #1
Carbondale, Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 317
Why are most whitewater kayak paddle blades offset?

I'm a crappy OC1er, so I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about stroke efficiency. I also row a raft, and have started kayaking. I can see why touring paddle blades are offset to decrease wind resistance during continuous paddle strokes...but why are whitewater blades offset? Why would anyone want to have anything other than a 0 degree offset paddle? While we're at it, why aren't raft oar blades asymmetrical? Kayak blades are assymetrical, highly engineered shapes designed to maximize efficiency - why are oar blades shaped like planks when they almost always interface the water at the exact same angle - especially when most boaters (right or wrong - different argument) use oar rights? I don't get it. Feedback please.

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Old 06-15-2013   #2
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Farmington, Utah
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I don't know.

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Old 06-15-2013   #3
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
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I can't give an engineer's answer, but I can tell you that I had a paddle with an asymmetrical blade design that would flutter and I didn't like it because of this quality. I replaced it with a paddle with a larger blade (also asymmetrical) and it doesn't flutter. It also develops a lot more power. Raft oar blades and C1 blades are symmetrical so as not to confuse the C1er/rafter.
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Old 06-15-2013   #4
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The only thing a kayak paddle has in common with an oar is they both get wet.
Whitewater kayak paddles were offset to avoid wind resistance as you surmised for touring paddles.
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Old 06-15-2013   #5
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BZN, Montana
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Although I use a 0 degree offset I can tell you offset paddles seem to offer better ergonimics particularly for forward strokes when using a fixed grip on a control hand and a sliding grip on the non-control hand. Tradition has dictated this is the correct method to paddle. I've found fixed grip on both hands to be better for me and I've seen many many skilled paddlers you a double fixed grip even with offset paddles which is ergonomically worse from what I've seen.

Wind resistance is a minor advantage and with the small offsets used on most whitewater kayaks not really a factor. If it was a major factor the offset would be adjustable as wind does not come directly up/down river.
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Old 06-15-2013   #6
SYOTR, Tennessee
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 79
I can think of a handful of times the wind was blowing so hard I was glad my paddle was offset.
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Old 06-15-2013   #7
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i actually only know 1 other rafter that uses oar rights. using open oars i think the reason to have symmetrical blades is obvious
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Old 06-16-2013   #8
Conejos Canyon & Houston, CO & TX
Paddling Since: 1979
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i would think that an asymmetrical oar could have similar issues to a poorly designed asymmetrical kayak paddle - if much of the area enters at once, it could be really a really harsh can manage this in calm water but it can sneak up on you in rough water

flutter as well, as mentioned

jim snyder has a history on offset along with some good ideas in general on his website
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Old 06-16-2013   #9
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Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 379
The main reason for an offset kayak paddle has to do with the biomechanics of the paddlers wrist, wind resistance is secondary. Typically, most paddlers find it more comfortable to have one hand (usually the right) as a the control hand. The reason for this is that when the top hand is raised during a stroke, the top hand wants to roll back a tad. If the paddle is 0 degree, the top wrist has to roll forward which puts a good deal of stress and strain on the tendons. Short 0 degree paddles are becoming more popular with respect to freestyle kayaking, but not so much for river running.
And it has changed over time. When I started paddles were at least 45 degrees, now 30 is the most common, and indeed I have found it much more comfortable.
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Old 06-16-2013   #10
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at my house, Montana
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Originally Posted by colorado_steve View Post
i actually only know 1 other rafter that uses oar rights. using open oars i think the reason to have symmetrical blades is obvious
Same with oar rights, since they will spin. Shark bite a blade? Just spin the right so it clicks in on the top. However if you drill the screw you may not want to do this.

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